Sunday, June 19

The nautical rumblings of summer by the ocean: an Easy Summer party with a takeaway recipe

Let's entertain
this summer with style yet ease

nautical rumblings abound at this quaint Sag Harbor cottage,
 and around every corner there is something special and unique

Summer entertaining should be natural and never forced
The "wow" factor we sometimes experience when arriving at a summer gathering
is created by the host who sets the welcoming, relaxed tone for the evening.  Of course good food, refreshing spirits and fun company are a must, but the ambiance is set the moment you arrive -- don't you agree? 

Summer in the Hamptons can be many things, but the most important feature to me is to relax and relish the simple joys with family and friends.  We have incredible light in the Hamptons, beautiful gardens and of course the ocean surrounds us, so there is much to draw upon for inspiration.  After a busy week, there is nothing more decadent than relaxing poolside, under a pergola or overlooking a green lawn with cocktail in hand and being served a tasty snack while chatting with interesting and fun people.
This Tiki Bar set up for the kids poolside added a whimsical touch

We've all been to that one elaborate party where the most coveted caterer is serving delicious food and the house is very impressive, yet somehow the event doesn't work.  It can feel stilted or perhaps the hosts are trying too hard to impress?  Something could be off like the guests are ushered in and out quickly, or the personal touches are simply absent.  That is why my most favorite events in summer are without fussy formality, a simple family gathering where the host injects their personal style.  It's hard to describe what makes a party successful so let me illustrate to you what I love most about summer parties.  I hope this inspires you to organize a summer party. 
Of course it doesn't hurt that hosts Craig and Tracey have fabulous taste -- as real estate talents and responsible for some of New York City's top properties and hotels, they have the necessary skills to put together a fun party.  Just like most of us, they are incredibly busy juggling lots. 

So how do you organize a weekend party without getting overwhelmed you ask? 

Ask your guests to contribute a little something so everyone feels a part of the evening.  It's always good to focus on one main signature dish as Craig did keeping watch over his delicious, homemade outdoor grilled Paella.  We arrived to this smokey delicious smell permeating the air.  

 As I've written about on Nest before, set up a focal point area or bar cart for your guests to convene: a place to make their own drinks.  Keep ice on hand, lemons/limes, some nuts perhaps and lots of choices from wine to lemonade for the kids. 

put out appetizers in other key seating areas for everyone to nibble so they are not waiting impatiently for passed h'doerves or dinner to be served.  Set the easy tone with keeping it casual and approachable.
 It's a unique balance of good planning but not overdoing it that makes a party successful:  create natural seating areas for guests so everyone feels comfortable to pull up a chair and have a seat.
of course flowers always brighten everyone up:  these hot pink peonies are exquisite

Try to offer an array of dishes and something for everyone. 
Roll cloth napkins with utensils and maybe put out in festive bowls or baskets,
and always set your table in advance. 
A Pot Luck approach allows everyone to bring their own personal style to the event and contribute.

 Tracey (right) with guest Chapin describing to me the delicious almond cake she made for dessert.  With such a variety of recipes available online as well as many cookbooks, don't forget to tap into these resources and make something with the emphasis on the "easy" for summer entertaining.  Guests appreciate light food in summer and don't overwhelm yourself with hours of preparation. Tracey likes food writer Amanda Hesser's cookbook with many take away recipes like the one below.
 the kids topped off the evening with a night swim --
always a great way to ring in summer no?
This delicious almond cake was the  party's "icing on the cake" and taken from Amanda Hesser's cookbook --
see recipe below

Take Away Recipe from Craig & Tracey's
summer kick-off party:

You can buy Amanda Hesser's cookbook here. 
A charming story from a food writer about her relationship with her husband that also happens to detail her incredible recipes.  This almond cake is actually her mother In-law's recipe. Straight from Amanda's cookbook,Tracey served this delicious, moist and simple almond cake with a dollop of vanilla ice cream and some fresh blueberries-- a perfect summer evening dessert.

Almond Cake
1 C butter
1 C sour cream, at room temperature
1 tsp baking soda
2 C all purpose flour
½ tsp salt
1 ½ C sugar
7 ounces almond paste
4 egg yolks, at room temperature
1 tsp almond extract
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting the cake.
 Preheat the oven to 350F.
Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform pan.
  • Mix the sour cream with baking soda.
  • In another bowl, sift the flour and salt together.
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.
  • Add the almond past, a little at a time, beating at medium for 8 minutes.
  • Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time; mix until incorporated. It will look curdled.
  • Blend in the almond extract and sour cream mixture.
  • Mixing at low, gradually add the flour mixture; beat just until blended.
  • Pour the batter into a prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake about 1 hour or when press the top and it springs back or shrinks a bit away from the side of the pan.
  • Remove from the pan and cool on a cooling rack. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve.

Stop back next week for
a profile of a Michigan tile maker
her summer inspired designs


Anonymous said...

summer begins here on NestNestNest and I'll tab some of these great ideas Tamara. thanks a bunch, sally Miller

Anonymous said...

fun times in Sag Harbor. Love Amanda Hesser's recipes and will note this cake for my summer parties. xo Stacy